Film (1971). Universal. Directed by Robert Wise. Written by Nelson Gidding, based on The Andromeda Strain (1969) by Michael Crichton. Cast includes Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid and David Wayne. 130 minutes. Colour.
This film, whose director had in 1951 made the classic sf film The Day the Earth Stood Still, concerns a microscopic organism, inadvertently brought to Earth on a returning space probe, which causes the instant death of everyone in the vicinity of the probe's landing (near a small town) with the exception of a baby and the town drunk. These two are isolated in a vast Underground laboratory complex, where a group of scientists attempts to establish the nature of the alien organism. The real enemy seems to be not the Andromeda virus but technology itself: it is mankind's technology that brings the virus to Earth, and the scientists in the laboratory sequences – most of the film – are made to seem puny and fallible compared to the gleaming electronic marvels that surround them; they have, in effect, become unwanted organisms within a superior body. (Wise deliberately avoided using famous actors in order to get the muted performances he wished to juxtapose with the assertive machinery.) The celebration of technology is only apparent – the film, despite its implausible but exciting ending, is coldly ironic, and rather pessimistic. [PN]
see also: Seiun Award.
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